meet the chef: Julian Cardoza

Originally from Lewes, East Sussex, chef Julian Cardoza moved to Norfolk four years ago and has fallen in love with everything about this part of the world. Currently hosting pop-ups in Walberswick twice a month.

chef in the making 
I have loved cooking for as long as I can remember. I grew up cooking with my grandad, who had a real love of food and that definitely rubbed off on me. I originally wanted to be a footballer and was playing for Brighton as a professional. However, following an injury, I moved to London, and I needed to get a job. I applied to the Savoy and got a job as a trainee. And that was it – a passion was born. 

learning the trade
I had an incredible time training at the Savoy, where I learned my trade. They were some of the longest and best days I have had in a kitchen. 

Following my time there, I moved to the Queen’s Head in Weybridge, Surrey, a Raymond Blanc restaurant. This was such an experience, and I learned so much. 

After a few years, I decided the time had come to leave and go it alone, and I started doing fine dining pop-ups, and they went from strength to strength. 

family and Norfolk
We – my fiancée Alexia and our sons, Ruben (6) and Rocco (5) moved to Norfolk four years ago. We didn’t want to raise our children in central London as it was just too busy. The boys’ grandparents also live up here, so it made sense to bring the family closer. As the boys are still young, I am focused on pop-ups and fine dining events in and around the Norfolk and Suffolk area, which I love because of the freedom I can have with the menus.

local produce
I also have a real passion for the number of wonderful suppliers and producers in Norfolk and Suffolk, people who genuinely love their trade. The stand outs for me are the local gins and amazing pork, but also the amount of wild produce that is available. We go foraging for samphire, blackberries, mushrooms, elderflower, hazelnuts… The list could go on, this is just such an amazing place for food. 

Do I miss London? Only for the food in terms of the number of different choices you have, and how easily accessible everything is. I love walking around Pop Brixton, a community space with amazing pop-up street food vendors; it is a little like Norwich Market, who also has really good vendors as well. 

My favourite foods to cook are definitely fish in summer and I love a really hearty stew in the wintertime. We eat quite simply at home to be honest, and just try to eat lots of vegetables with some fish or meat. 

We have a really great butcher in Harleston, D.A Browne & Son, and I get all of my meat from him. He only uses local suppliers and farmers, something that I think is really important. For my fish, I use a fish van called The Fish Box, also based in Harleston, fortunately. He has some of the freshest, best-tasting fish I have ever eaten and once again, he only uses sustainably caught fish which is really important to me.

love of cooking
I love everything about being a chef. Most of all, I would say that I love the creative process of designing the menu and plating. I am constantly creating new dishes in my head. I think just walking around somewhere such as Borough Market in London can make anyone fall in love with food, it is such an amazing place full of incredible produce and suppliers. And there are so many amazing food and drink festivals up here that can do the same. 

My youngest Rocco loves helping me cook and bake, and he says that when he is older, he would like to be a chef, so we’ll see if he follows not only in my footsteps, but those of his great granddad.

the dream 
My ultimate goal with cooking would be to, one day, open a restaurant in either the north Norfolk or Suffolk coast. 

At the moment, however, I am really enjoying doing my pop-ups and I am really busy doing private dining events. It works around my family time, and it is good to have that flexibility with cooking because, as you know, it can literally take up every minute of your life.

where to find Julian
We are doing pop-ups at the Tea Shed in Walberswick every other Friday each month, and this is going really well. We offer both a regular and vegan menu, and I have had a lot of fun working on menus that really celebrate the produce. The evening consists of a five-course fine dining menu that changes twice a month, and they are going really well. In fact, you can read all about it on the nourish website as you are coming down to experience my food for yourselves! 

  • if Julian’s passion for food has whetted your appetite, see his winning dinner party recipe here
  • You can reach Julian via email: twitter @julschef1 facebook Julian Cardoza or on instagram @juliancardozachef

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